The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act” was passed by the Parliament in August 2009.
- When the Act came into force in 2010, India became one among 135 countries where education is a fundamental right of every child.
- The 86th Constitutional Amendment (2002) inserted Article 21A in the Indian Constitution which states:
- “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State, may by law determine.”
- As per this, the right to education was made a fundamental right and removed from the list of Directive Principles of State Policy.
- The RTE is the consequential legislation envisaged under the 86th Amendment.
- The provisions of the RTE Act are briefly described below. The Act provides for:
- The right of free and compulsory education to children until they complete their elementary education in a school in the neighbourhood.
- The Act makes it clear that ‘compulsory education’ implies that it is an obligation on the part of the government to ensure the admission, attendance and completion of elementary education of children between the ages of six and fourteen. The word ‘free’ indicates that no charge is payable by the child which may prevent him/her from completing such education.
- The Act provides for the admission of a non-admitted child to a class of his/her appropriate age.
- It mentions the duties of the respective governments, the local authorities and parents in ensuring the education of a child. It also specifies the sharing of the financial burden between the central and the state governments.
- It specifies standards and norms for Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTR), infrastructure and buildings, working days of the school and for the teachers.
- It also says there should be no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings. The Act also provides for the prohibition of the employment of teachers for non-educational work, other than census, elections and disaster relief work.
- The Act provides that the teachers appointed should be appropriately trained and qualified.
The Act prohibits:
- Mental harassment and physical punishment.
- Screening procedures for the admission of children.
- Capitation fees.
- Private tuition by the teachers.
- Running schools with no recognition.
- The Act envisages that the curriculum should be developed in coherence with the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution, and that which would take care of the all-round development of the child.
Significance of RTE
- The Act lays down specific standards for the student-teacher ratio, which is a very important concept in providing quality education.
- It also talks about providing separate toilet facilities for girls and boys, having adequate standards for classroom conditions, drinking water facilities, etc.
- The stress on avoiding the urban-rural imbalance in teachers’ posting is important as there is a big gap in the quality and numbers regarding education in the villages compared to the urban areas in the country.
- The Act provides for zero tolerance against the harassment and discrimination of children.
- The Act also mandates that no kid is detained until class 8.
- The Act also provides for the formation of a School Management Committee (SMC) in every school in order to promote participatory democracy and governance in all elementary schools.
- These committees have the authority to monitor the school’s functioning and prepare developmental plans for it.
- The Act is justiciable and has a Grievance Redressal mechanism that permits people to take action when the provisions of the Act are not complied with.
- The RTE Act mandates for all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children from socially disadvantaged and economically backward sections.
- This provision seeks to achieve social integration.
- The loss incurred by the schools as a result of this would be reimbursed by the central government.
- The Act has increased enrolment in the upper primary level (Class 6-8) between 2009 and 2016 by 19.4%.
- In rural areas, in 2016, only 3.3% of children in the 6 – 14 years bracket were out of school.